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What's the Difference Between a Funeral Service and a Memorial Service?

By Mike Testa

Funeral homes provide different services depending on the needs and preferences of the decedent's family.

While many people use the phrases "funeral service" and "memorial service" interchangeably, they are actually different services.

A "funeral service" is any official ceremony that takes place in the presence of a casketed body. In other words, the body (inside a casket) is present during the ceremony. The casket lid may be open or closed.

A "memorial service", on the other hand, is any official ceremony that takes place without the casketed body being present. For example, the ceremony might take place with just an urn containing cremated remains (i.e. "ashes") serving as the focal point of the ceremony. Alternatively, the focal point could be just a picture of the deceased displayed on an easel.

Other than this distinction, both a funeral service and a memorial service are similar. Both types of services last approximately 25 minutes and are usually accompanied by a eulogy delivered by a family member or clergy member. Both types of services can be held at a funeral home, church, or any other place the family chooses.

Usually, a funeral home will charge the same amount for a memorial ceremony as they charge for a funeral ceremony (around $500). Remember, the ceremony itself is just one component of overall funeral costs. A typical funeral or memorial service can easily run more than $7,000.

Although, this article just touched on one aspect of funeral planning, there are many considerations that need to be addressed in deciding between a funeral, memorial, or cremation service.

Michael Testa, CPA


The web's leading funeral information resource.


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